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The Sari Shop Widow Is a Romance With a Multi-Cultural Flair

September 28, 2009

The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal
published by Kensington Publishing Corporation September 1, 2009

Anjali Kapadia lost her husband, Vikram, at the heart-breakingly young age of 27. After surviving an intense depression, she invested in her parents’ small clothing shop in the Little India section of Edison, New Jersey. Using her gift for designing beautiful clothing, she expanded the business. The store, Sapphires and Silk, was “a place where she’d buried her grief and more or less resurrected herself.”

Now her beloved shop is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. And Anjali is involved in a loveless affair with Kip Rowling, a relationship she hides from her conservative Hindu family.

“In her old-fashined Gujariti environment, Kip would stick out like Mount Everest planted amidst gentle, rolling hills.”

To further complicate matters, Anjali’s father has called in her tyrannical uncle, Jeevan, to help save the business. Jeevan, her father’s eldest brother, raised his siblings after their parents died. The patriarch is a successful businessman, but he terrifies everyone in the family.

“In his eyes, he was only one small step below God. At the mention is his name, his family trembled with fear. With a simple phone call he could reduce some of them to tears. Most often, when someone in the family mentioned Jeevan’s name, it was preceded by “oh God,” and rightfully so.”

Jeevan-kaka arrives, bringing a business partner, Rishi Shah. Anjali resents their invading her life and her business, yet she feels drawn to Rishi who is young, handsome and intelligent. In time, against her better judgment, she realizes she’s falling in love.

I almost never enjoy romance novels, and as I delved into this story, I doubted I’d like it. Even though I have a weakness for novels that allow me to visit other cultures, some aspects of the novel felt formulaic to me. Neverthless, the world Shobhan Bantwal created drew me in, as did Anjali — a woman who is smart, creative, independent, vulnerable, and torn between cultures. I loved the rich background, woven from various elements of Indian culture, including food, fashion, religion, and cultural values. And I couldn’t resist the author’s eye for detail. She engages all your senses, with vivid colors, imagery, sounds, scents, and textures.

Shobhan Bantwal writes beautifully and has a gift for telling a good story. I recommend The Sari Shop Widow as a treat for fiction lovers, especially those who enjoy books delving into other countries and cultures.

This is part of a virtual book tour with Promotional 101 Virtual Blog Tours Check out the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9uRlbkxxes

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